Facebook to Test Pre-Roll Ads for Videos, but Not in Your Feed

Facebook is getting ready to test ads that will play before the start of a video in the coming weeks — but those so-called pre-roll ads won’t be showing up in your Facebook feed. Instead, the company is looking to limit testing of pre-roll videos to its Watch tab, Variety has learned.

AdAge was first to report on the coming tests Friday. Facebook declined to comment on the matter.

The move to test pre-roll advertising is notable for Facebook because the company long resisted the ad format, and instead bet on mid-roll ads — ads that interrupt a video — for monetization of video content. In fact, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had long been a vocal opponent of pre-roll ads, arguing that they weren’t compatible with the company’s news feed.

Facebook’s video business evolved significantly this year with the introduction of the Watch tab, which presents videos in a feed-free environment. The company has also begun to strike licensing deals with publishing partners to seed Facebook Watch with professional content, and is moving towards longer-form shows that more directly compete not only with YouTube, but even Netflix and traditional TV.

Some of the shows launched or scheduled to launch on Watch include a reality series about the family of L.A. Lakers player Lonzo Ball, an unscripted show starring Bill Murray and his brother Brian Doyle-Murray, a reality show about NBA star Dwayne Wade and a drama series produced by Kerry Washington.

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